The image in my mind’s eye this morning is of me living my life is of stained glass. The big picture of myself in my life – along with all others who are a part of my life (and in some way that includes all who are alive, all who are connected to the stream of my life by their contributions in the past) — is of a massive picture created with meticulous beauty — of what exactly? I cannot tell because it seems most pieces, though cut to fit this picture, lie around me disconnected in a state of readiness to be placed where they belong — but aren’t. (Could they be?)
On any given day, at any given moment I can collect an assortment of shaped pieces, all possessed of inherent individual beauty, all with edges that could be dangerous if I handle them wrongly, round about me. These pieces stick with me throughout a waking day as if we are bound together with powerful static electricity.
I can move the pieces around, hold them up the the light, admire their exquisite beauty — but I cannot put more than a very few of them together where they belong and make them stick there. If I could, then I could get up the next morning with part of the picture in front of me, surrounding me, and add a little bit more order and understanding to the pattern of experience that is my life.
Today is a perfect day. Recent rains have washed all visible dust and pollutants out of the air. Distant mountains seem closer. Every particle of life glistens and shines. Humidity in our high desert air has plant life thriving in it. The sun is shining. Temperatures most related to coming fall engulf us. Life is beautiful.
But I have to work to let that feeling of peace invade my own self. The pressure of having yet another day of life to live – to live rightly the best that I can – to live a day that is unlike any that has ever been on this planet before, that will disappear moment by moment into the past taking choices along with it as time has come and gone — knowing that life is going on for people all over this planet under all kinds of different conditions — and that for so many that life is nothing but suffering.
I nearly perpetually carry the sense I had all during my so-abusive childhood that if I could ‘just do things right’ life would be perfect. It would be paradise. There would be nothing to be ‘punished’ for. There would be no mistake made. There would be no regrets. There would be no need to ever feel I did something wrong, that there is something in existence that now needs to be up-righted, to be fixed, simply because I am alive.
I can’t go back and smooth out all those wrinkles in my beliefs about life. I can try to recognize them. But sometimes there just seems to be so many different fronts to pay attention to as I sit with those separated beautiful pieces of stained glass – not knowing where so many of them belong or what they mean or what to do with them – or what happened that I can make so little sense out of anything I recognize about life, my own included.
Yesterday was a special day for me in an important way: I chuckled out loud. I didn’t just chuckle once. I was surprised and entertained by chuckles that came to me on several occasions yesterday. I ask myself, “What did you do differently yesterday, Linda, that you got to experience what so rarely comes to you, those moments of clear and simple joy?”
I do not KNOW, and that puzzlement also troubles me, as if I created an accidental puzzle whose solution is as unknown to me as its creation!
I didn’t make any special decision to chuckle yesterday. I remember what traditional Native American elders up north where I used to live often stated: “Humor is a spirit. When we laugh it is because a spirit of humor has passed us by.”
Well, I am grateful. The relief I felt at being able to chuckle leaves me nearly speechless! It’s not that the chuckle-worthy pieces of life that visited me yesterday make any more sense than any other piece makes. It’s just that I felt free from a great burden when the chuckles arrived. Humor appeared in the words and actions of other people. Humor appeared in my own actions, as well.
Those chuckle moments seem, looking back at yesterday, to be individual blessings that angels carried into my life — and made OBVIOUS to me.
Yet as I think of it more carefully, more specifically, doing what a Virgo’s Virgo Mercurial mind can do so well — examine the context along with the content of those moments — I see that every chuckle appeared at a moment when a light shone brightly on the humanness of people.
Looking at life as a puzzle where people do the best that they can do – recognizing that things could have been done BETTER — but weren’t. Yet at those moments there was a recognition that no shame was attached to the actions done. Rather there was grace and mercy present so that nothing negative was attached to ‘silly’ actions of — just human people.
Around four in the afternoon a dark and ominous cloud appeared to block out the mountain range (these are more like foothills than peaks) to the north of the little town I live in. Thundering crashes let us know this storm meant some kind of serious business as it approached us. Lots of neighbors were outside, children included. Everyone except the youngest had their eyes on that cloud.
It BOOMED! a few times — and disappeared. But with its ‘big joke’ it knocked out all power to our town for about 6 hours. The sun was destined to set, to leave us all in darkness. I was happy to disperse little candles I have in my saved, stored collection to my neighbors who live in these simple old trailers filled with growing children before the sun set.
Of course we were out of water, so little people with water jugs appeared at my door. I traded their empties for full ones I had filled at our local water machine for drinking. I found an extra flashlight and transferred its light to my eastern neighbor. A long dark tunnel can be intimidating to children trying to find the bathroom.
The neighbors did not disappear into their houses as dark crept for us. There was nothing to do there. Off for family walks they sauntered with their hand-held beams of light — squealing in unison as they passed a wakening snake along the side of the roughened pavement.
All these people in this Mexican-American border town of 700 know one another. Most are related. When they go for an evening stroll with babes in tow they have somewhere to go. Not I.
What could busy-me do in the dark with my two candles lit and my flashlight stuffed into my left jean shorts pocket to be pulled out at an instant’s notice?
For days I’ve known I needed to do a pedicure. Never do I stop from all of my other business long enough to get that task done. So filling a pan with water from a gallon jug, flashlight in hand, I sat down long enough to do my nails — and to chuckle at how silly I (and others can be) — well – simply because we can be! We are human!
The power came back on. Life resumed ‘as usual’. The ‘dark moments’ that turned into calm and pleasing ‘pressure-free’ times had passed. (I spent much of my childhood living without running water or electricity – but boy am I used to those amenities now!) Everyone returned indoors leaving the brilliant half moon turning the sky to white peace-filled light outside
Yet another piece of the stained glass pie: Maybe it doesn’t really matter one tiny bit what individuals make of our collective moments. What might only matter is that they passed at all – and together somebody noticed.
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